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Russell Students Feel Empowered by DominateSTL Mentorship Program

Russell DominateSTL program DominateSTL DominateSTL

The Hazelwood School District outlined a goal to “differentiate and expand resources and services for students” in the Hazelwood NOW Strategic Plan. In Goal #2, one of the measurable steps is to promote, develop, and maintain structures, processes, strategies, and practices that continuously sustain and improve positive student engagement and behavior.

During the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year, Russell Elementary implemented a plan to address that goal by welcoming DominateSTL, a mentoring program for male students, to meet weekly with a group of 4th-grade students.

“As an elementary principal, it makes me proud to see what they learned from their adult male mentors played out in their actions with their peers and classmates,” said Dr. Lisa Strauther, building principal at Russell Elementary. “The young men of Russell Elementary School who benefited from participating in the program are demonstrating positive character traits in and out of school. DominateSTL poured into our students and gave them a renewed sense of belonging that they can carry with them beyond their formative years. I appreciate the time they expended with our students and their efforts towards helping to make a difference.”

In the program, the Cougars learned how to be a leader for themselves and the community. The mentors focused on being mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially responsible while using social-emotional learning techniques to help the students overcome day-to-day challenges that may arise. 

“What I liked about being a part of DominateSTL was that they taught us about leadership, goals, and believing in ourselves,” stated Chase Henderson, a 4th-grade student at Russell.

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The STL in DominateSTL represents Stand, Teach, Lead, and during each weekly session, the group went over these characteristics, and the students learned valuable lessons about how to implement them and improve positive engagement and behaviors in and outside of school.

“We’ve been privileged to come in and teach in the elementary schools, middle schools, and a couple of the high schools in the Hazelwood School District,” detailed Eddie Ross, a mentor with DominateSTL. “I teach the lead portion, which talks about self-regulation, career building, and the responsibilities of young men in today’s society, which is to protect, provide, and lead. We start there because that sets the tone for them establishing goals, and Russell has some amazing kids who are pretty goal-focused.”

“My favorite part about coming to Russell Elementary is the energy and feedback they provide,” exclaimed Nate McGhee, founder of DominateSTL. “It was phenomenal to see how quickly they latched onto us, and by the second or third week, they had already turned our pledge into their own song.”

The Hazelwood School District wants to thank Russell Elementary and DominateSTL for their commitment to educating the whole child and providing this resource for students.